Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Yennadon Down – an exploration

Yennadon Down is a lovely domed shaped hill sandwiched between Burrator Reservoir and the village of Dousland. The views here are magnificent, especially to the south and west. To the casual observer, aside the views, the down has little to offer in interest. This post has been created to showcase many of the eclectic mix of historic features across the southern flanks of the down and includes the Iron Mine and sett, a number of boundstones / inscribed rocks, some WWII sites, some features associated with Devonport Leat and the course of the Plymouth and Dartmoor tramway.

This map shows the features covered in this post. The route taken is east to west across the down, showing some of the (possibly) less well known features.
0. Sharpitor
View from near the summit of Yennadon Down looking north east towards Peek Hill, Leather Tor and Sharpitor.
0. Sheepstor
View from near the summit of Yennadon Down looking east towards Sheepstor.
1. ANDY inscribed rock
Just to the east of the summit of Yennadon Down a rock inscribed “ANDY” can be found. The author suspects it is 21st century origin and has no great historical significance. The rock featured within an article in the Dartmoor Magazine, Issue 125, (Winter 2016) on page 41 by Mark Fenlon and Tim Jenkinson. The rock can be found at SX54931 68554.
2. PCWW a
In 1893, the Plymouth Corporation Water Act was approved, which effectively gave them the right to “impound the water of the River Meavy and its tributaries”. Subsequently the reservoir at Burrator was constructed and was completed in 1898 effectively replacing Drake’s Leat (the previous source of water dated from 1591), which had become inadequate. The reservoir watershed, however, was owned by others, in the main Sir Henry Lopes of Maristow. The area of the watershed was 5300 acres. The selling of the watershed lands to the Plymouth City Water Works (PCWW) in 1916, 1919 and 1932 led to the erection of around 70 granite boundary markers. This PCWW pillar was erected in 1917 and can be found at SX54697 68594
3. Iron Mine Sett Pillar a
This short rough-hewn plain pillar marks the eastern limit of the sett of Yennadon (meavy) Iron Mine. The original deeds of the mine included a map (circa 1838) of the mine sett which showed 13 boundstones in two parallel lines running west-east across the down. (Ref: Dartmoor HER). It is thought that this is the only remaining boundstone. That said, the down is very overgrown in gorse and there still could other boundstones waiting to be (re)found.
4. Iron Mine Sett Pillar b
This Iron Mine sett boundstone can be found at SX54899 68355.
5. PCWW b
This PCWW pillar was erected in 1917 and can be found at SX54729 68182
6. PCWW c
This PCWW pillar was erected in 1917 and can be found at SX54795 67859 alongside the (now dry) Devonport Leat.
7. Iron Mine a
Crossing over the down in a westerly direction from the Iron Mine sett boundstone, the author attempted to locate (unsuccessfully) other boundstones. The gorse, is very thick and exploration is difficult. The remains of the Iron Mine, as shown in the pictures, comprises of shallow openworks, which now have many large mature trees.
8. Iron Mine b
Very little is recorded on Yennadon (or Meavy) Iron Mine. The author found in the Dartmoor HER that the mine sett was leased in 1836 to George Stone Baron with permission to search for iron and other ores.
9. Iron Mine c
More views of the Iron Mine shallow openworks from the western end, near to the track leading to Yennadon Quarry.
10. Iron Mine Spoil
One of several Overgrown dumps / spoil from the Iron Mine.
11. Quarry
Yennadon Quarry (zoomed in view) is shown on 19th century maps adjacent to the Plymouth and Dartmoor Tramway. An extension to its operation was approved in October 2017 to allow operations up to 3.2 hectares. The site is on land owned by the Walkhampton Trust and administered by Lord Roborough’s Maristow Estate and is leased to Yennadon Stone Ltd.
12. WWII Battery a
Near to the top of tarmac portion of Iron Mine on the open down are the remains of Yennadon Down WWII anti-aircraft battery site. It was clearly a temporary battery and looks like it was possibly wooden structures on concrete plinths. A record in the Dartmoor HER (F.H. Woodwad) speculates that the battery was used to either to help protect Yelverton airfield (RAF Harrowbeer) or for firing at planes approaching or leaving Plymouth which were using the darker edge of the moor as a guide.
13. WWII Battery b
This plinth was recorded at SX54200 68241. The site appears to lack gun emplacements which that the guns were mobile or located elsewhere and this was just a base.
14. WWII Battery c
Close inspection of the WWII anti-aircraft battery site reveals that most of it survives only as (now grassed) terraces. The left hand picture section of a granite plinth is at SX54201 68279.
15. WWII Searchlight
A short distance to the south of the WWII anti-aircraft battery site a small raised mound can be found at SX54231 68176. It is believed by the author that this is the searchlight site mentioned in the Dartmoor HER. These sites as described in the HER “typically comprised a small ring-ditch to provide the crew with shelter during an air raid, a predictor emplacement for calculating the height and range of targets, a light anti-aircraft machine gun pit, a generator and hutted accommodation for the crew”.
16. Devonport Leat Diversion a
To the south east of the WWII anti-aircraft battery and searchlight sites a shallow ditch can be found amongst the gorse, which represents the disused diversion channel of Devonport Leat. The clear section shown in the photograph was recorded at SX54363 68087.
17. Devonport Leat Diversion b
The diversion channel for Devonport Leat is recorded as dating from early 19th century. It was dug to bypass the Iron Mine. The south east end junction of this diversion channel with the main Devonport Leat channel is next to the “PCWW 1917” (recorded earlier in this post) at SX54795 67859. The north west end of the channel is close to the “WWII searchlight” .
18. Devonport Leat Diversion c
Section of the Devonport Leat diversion channel deep in the Yennadon Down gorse. The author has little information regarding this diversion channel and would welcome any other information.
19. Devonport Leat Diversion d
Another section of the Devonport Leat diversion channel deep in the Yennadon Down gorse.
20. Plymouth and Dartmoor Tramway a
The Plymouth and Dartmoor tramway was originally planned by Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt in the early 19th century. The line was intended to bring up lime and sea-sand for the improvement of the (Dartmoor) land, alongside timber and coal. The tramway was used then to transport granite, peat and mining products in the opposite direction. The line opened on 26 September 1823. Today, the original line is buried under the private tarmac road to four properties at the top of Iron Mine Lane.
21. Plymouth and Dartmoor Tramway b
The course of the old Plymouth and Dartmoor Tramway crosses Iron Mine Lane and through the gates of the property known as “The Old Halt”. The tramway wasn’t a great success as little was carried on it other than granite. By 1840 its use had dwindled considerably. Consequentially, the section of the tramway above Yelverton was sold and was reconstructed to standard gauge and reopened as the Princetown Railway, which opened on 11th August 1883. The course of the tramway compared with the railway is interesting in this area, insofar as the tramway had a sharp (180 deg) turn in its course (possible due to it being horse drawn) on the west side of the down, whereas the railway contoured around the down to the east.
22. Yennadon House a
The author was drawn to an artefact outside the entrance to Yennadon House, in the shape of a three stepped horse mount with iron tethering ring. It is probably 19th century in origin.
23. Yennadon House b
Gateway into the Yennadon House estate.
24. Devonport Leat in Iron Mine Lane
Also of interest in Iron Mine Lane is small iron gate behind which the old course of Devonport Leat can be found. At this point it is still granite lined.
25. Iron Mine Lane Sign
The end of this post. The Iron Mine Lane signpost at the junction with the Meavy road.

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